Belfast in Springtime

Carolyn Wollen and her great friend Mary Lou Steptoe came together for some fiber explorations in Maine this Spring. They like to peruse Maine Fiberarts’ online Tour Map and publications, and then plan a trip around visiting artists’ studios and learning some new fiber technique. On this trip, I was to teach Mary Lou “knitted ring lace,” a pattern taught to me by Katharine Cobey.

Mary Lou is a great knitter and also does all kinds of fiber work, gardening, reading and drawing. She filled two pages of her sketchbook as we explored. Carolyn was looking to get re-inspired to return to her weaving and quilting after the long Covid shut-in. Restrictions had been lifted in Maine, the fruit trees were in blossom, and off we went to Belfast. 

First, we visited Heavenly Yarns located near the Belfast Coop. Such a beautiful store. Sarah Hewitt’s weavings were on the wall and the shop was filled with goodies. Sara Brand-New posed for a few photos of the amazing Missoni-inspired dress she handknit. She told us she has a trunkful at home on her farm with at least 12 more. Suzanne Folsom designed and knit the Fair Isle hat of black, white and gray Gotland and Coopworth yarns from area farmers. Heavenly Yarns’ owner Helen likes to support local fiber-producing farmers and shares a blog, “Fiber of Maine,” from her website. A quick lunch and three-way sharing of Darby’s famous Sticky Toffee Pudding, and it was back to our bed and breakfast for “feet up.” We even squeezed in time to learn the ring lace.

The next morning we attended the reopening of Belfast Fiberarts, where Mary Lou purchased an amazing fine knitted lace shawl—a museum piece! The shawl was hand knit by Susan Golden and the pattern is called “Jackson’s Dream” designed by Tiziana Sammuri. We visited the gorgeous fabrics and fine art supplies at Fiddlehead Artisans, great tights at Coyote Moon, paintings and prints at Local Color, and knew that beautiful dyed wools from Marion Brown’s Fiber Art Studio were close at hand. But we saved that visit for another day. It was home to admire the wild, colorful yarn and new tunic pattern I purchased for summer knitting.

Great fiber stops in Belfast, Maine.

—Photos by Christine Macchi and Mary Lou Steptoe

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